What Should I Do if Health Issues Arise?
What should you do if you have a health issue in your flock?
If you observe an unexplained high death loss problem in your flock, the first step should be to call the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Avian Influenza Hotline number at: 717-772-2852 They will advise you on the proper steps to take.
Unless there is a known outbreak of Highly-Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or HPAI in the region, they will probably advise submitting some sick or dead birds to your regional animal diagnostic laboratory.
If there are any deceased birds, prepare their bodies for lab testing.
They should be double-bagged and refrigerated, not frozen.
Then, if the lab advises it, you will need to send them for testing.
The diagnostic laboratories will perform a necropsy and tests to help you understand the cause of the death loss.
If HPAI does become detected in Pennsylvania, and you experience a high death loss, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will most likely send someone out to take swab samples to test for the virus right away.
For more information on bird health concerns, click the blue info button here, for a link to Extension's web page, "Where to get help in Pennsylvania." The "Where to get help" page has contact info and links to useful resources.
For a downloadable version of this resource list, simply scroll to the bottom of the page, and click on this link to download the publication, "Where to get help in Pennsylvania." Don't forget to save or print it for future reference, or have a notebook ready to copy the info from the following slides by hand.
For routine poultry health questions, contact the Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System lab nearest you.
They have veterinarians with advanced training and expertise in poultry diseases, and are able to test samples for Avian diseases.
If, for any reason, you are unable to reach one of these labs, you can contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
They also have regional veterinarians on staff, which are locally based, and can come out if needed.
If you are not a Pennsylvania resident, you can call the USDA's nationwide toll-free "Healthy Birds" hotline.
Your call will be rerouted to state or federal veterinarians in your state.
If you experience a significant health problem in your flock, in addition to reporting sick birds, you should implement a voluntary quarantine of your flock.
That is, do not move any birds to or from your flock, until the problem is investigated further, diagnosed, and/or resolved.
As part of the quarantine, you should not visit places where poultry are present, such as feed mills, swap meets, poultry auctions, or shows.
This will help prevent transmitting pathogens on your shoes or clothing to other birds.
Also, don't have unnecessary visitors to your property, as they may introduce or spread diseases.
Finally, to help prevent the spread of Avian Flu and other transmittable diseases, be vigilant about practicing proper biosecurity.
For instance, have a dedicated pair of boots to wear only when you are around your birds, and have visitors to your flock wear approved single-use shoe coverings.
To review, follow these steps if an unusual health issue appears in your flock.
First, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture hotline.
If they advise you to get a necropsy performed, prepare any bodies for testing.
Then, contact the experts who will advise you on what to do next.
Implementing a voluntary quarantine is also a good idea until you find out the cause of your birds' health problem.
Finally, be sure to use good biosecurity at all times.
Continue watching the next and final video in this series to learn more about biosecurity.
Frequently Asked Questions